Poverty and the fear of poverty really brings out the worse in us. When you are poor, it’s difficult to have dreams, and I’ve got a first-hand experience recently.
I started my first company Imonology back in 2011. This year marks the 9th year of running the business.
During this period, we’ve had various challenges and difficulties, including the departing of founding members, financial difficulties, technical challenges in projects that we were unable to resolve. And when we finally did, time-to-market was gone and the project was a business failure.
We’ve got people come and go, and went into various fields. But throughout all this, the core belief that sustained us, was the desire to seek out freedom, and create a developer-friendly work environment, that’s flexible and remote-based, where people’s professionalism is respected.
Such ideals had kept us going, until now.
Earlier this month at our regular business meeting, I learned by surprise that our cash is less than a month given our current burn rate. Due to mostly negligence on my part.
We were in the process of a few client discussions, but none has materialized since Apr. this year, and we’re running out of money.
I quickly let our team and close family members know about the situation, but I was met with some anger and negative responses from concerned family members, who suggested me to shutdown the companies and get a job.
For the last 9 years, I’ve spent much time and money on my companies, which made them feel deprived and neglected, all without “successful results”. Although, given that none of them had founded companies before, it’s understandable that they cannot appreciate the situation fully.
Nevertheless, I experienced harsh and critical comments, falling upon me like a rain, due to the poor performance of the company.
They are all good-nature with good intentions, yet when faced by poor economics, they can be the most unforgiving and critical judges to both my behaviors and intentions.
I don’t blame them for the criticism, because to a large degree, I invited all this in the first place! It’s also true that it’s my responsibility that the companies I operate have fallen into the current situation.
However, given what we’ve accomplished in the last 9 years, including a strong culture where everyone accepts and supports each other’s work, communicates openly, and adapts quickly.
Yet all of this, wouldn’t have been possible, if I wasn’t supported by family and friends, with the sense of safety that my basic living would not be threatened, regardless of the company’s performance.
Yet when my personal / family livelihood appears to be in danger, all that social support is gone. I could clearly see that people start to treat each other harshly, when the economics are bad.
This is perhaps why basic protections on livelihood is probably needed, if we were to even preserve our most basic humanity. Systems such as Universal Basic Income (UBI) may well do the job, or perhaps other forms of social security systems.
When there’s no such protection, the worse side of people can be exposed. If we do have UBI, then we might be more tolerant to risk-taking, entrepreneurship, or attempts at learning new things, when the basic livelihood isn’t been threatened by experimentation.
It would be a more tolerant and forgiving society, and as such, a more humane society as well.